Take 10% OFF—Expires in h m s Use code save10u during checkout.

Claim Offer

International support numbers

+1 (800) 405-2972Toll-free +1 (702) 979-7365Local/SMS
+1 (800) 597-3941Toll-free
+1 (800) 764-195Toll-free
+0 (808) 134-9867Toll-free


The definition of a pun is the use of a word, or of words which are formed or sounded alike, in such a way as to juxtapose, connect, or bring out two or more of the possible applications of the word or words, usually in a humorous way; a play on words.

Definition of a pun

A pun is a kind of joke that is is based on the various associations that a single word may possess. The speaker rapidly switches between these different meanings in order to create a clever and/or comic effect.

Some 'punny' examples

For your reference, here are some examples of the term pun being used within real sentences in a proper way

"The listener missed the pun in the speech: English was his second language, so he didn't catch the nuances and the multiple meanings of the specific words." 

"In a clever pun, Douglas Adams once pointed out that although you can tune a guitar, you cannot tuna fish, unless that fish happens to be a bass." 

"All the listeners groaned at the unoriginal pun made by the speaker, because they felt that he was trying way too hard to impress them with his cleverness."

In case you would like further clarification about the meaning of the literary term pun, here are some rules that can help you out. 

1. There are many different kinds of puns. For example, one kind of pun is based on the fact that two words may sound the same but have different meanings; another kind of pun is based on the same word having two or more different meanings; and so on. 

2. What always defines the pun, though, is that it consists of a play on language. A pun is a pun because it consists of the speaker using language not in a straightforward way to communicate information, but rather in a somewhat surreal way that expands the imagination.  

3. The difference between a good pun and a bad pun is primarily based on originality and naturalness. In this sense, the reasons a person reacts positively or negatively to a pun is similar to reasons he responds positively or negatively to a joke. 

Impact on language

Although the primary effect of a pun is often to make the listener either laugh or think, there is reason to believe that the pun has historically had a much broader and more important effect on the very nature of language itself. For example, some experts in the field have suggested that the alphabet itself—starting with the pictorial languages of Sumeria and Egypt—is primarily based on the pun. That is, the people who were inventing these systems of symbols may have relied on a kind of free association of meaning between different signs, as opposed to focusing on the literal meaning of any one sign. That is, they made pun after pun, with the alphabet eventually emerging as a system of puns. 

In a modern context, it can be suggested that there is perhaps a close relationship between punning and poetic creativity. This is because when a person makes a pun, he is almost enchanted by the very nature of language itself, as opposed to merely focusing on what the language can "say" in a more instrumental or pragmatic sense. The pun thus tends to disrupt people's expectations about the meanings of words, and thereby produce a kind of cognitive space in which new meanings can begin to emerge.  

About The Author

This post was written by Ultius.

Ultius - Writing & Editing Help




Ultius is the trusted provider of content solutions for consumers around the world. Connect with great American writers and get 24/7 support.

Download Ultius for Android on the Google Play Store DMCA.com Protection Status

© 2020 Ultius, Inc.